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A Guide To Citronella Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses

A Guide To Citronella Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses

The best known use of citronella essential oil (Cymbopogon nardus) is as an insect repellent, although the oil also has other uses. The scent is uplifting and can help clear the mind.

Basic Citronella Facts

Plant family: Poaceae/Gramineae

Production: Steam distilled from the leaves of the plant, which is a perennial grass. A cousin to lemongrass, citronella is distinguished by its reddish stems.

Aroma: Lemony, sharp, sweet

Perfume/Aromatic note: Top

Is citronella safe to use during pregnancy? No.

Is citronella essential oil safe for children? Generally, yes. Do not use on babies under 6 months. For skin use on ages 6 months to 2 years, use a blend containing no more than 0.5% citronella, that is, a maximum of 3 drops of essential oil in two tablespoons of carrier oil.

Cautions: May irritate highly sensitive or damaged skin.

Main components:

  • citronellal        5.2-46.8%
  • geraniol          16.8-29.1%
  • (–)-citronellol  3.0-21.8%
  • d-limonene      2.6-11.3%

Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed.

Benefits Of Citronella Essential Oil

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art suggests citronella added to a warm bath may improve sleep. The oil is a physical and emotional purifier that may relieve the symptoms of colds and help oily complexions.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Citronella may help relieve muscle aches and pains, excessive perspiration, fungus, fatigue, and insect bites.

Essential Oils: All Natural Remedies: Citronella balances skin prone to oiliness, freshens and clears air, and enhances focus. You can make a foot lotion for smelly feet by adding a few drops to unscented lotion base.

The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (updated edition): Citronella oil supports the immune system during colds and flu. Good for oily skin and to relieve excessive perspiration. May help relieve fatigue and headaches.

Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Citronella calms and balances the first through the fourth chakras. The essential oil connects these energy centers and aligns them with the upper chakras.

Citronella Oil Uses

Here are three ways to use citronella as an insect repellent:

  • Add 24 drops citronella to 1/2 cup distilled water in a dark glass spray bottle. Spray exposed skin and clothing before going outside, avoiding the eyes. Repeat as needed.
  • Dilute citronella in a carrier oil and apply to skin before and during outdoor activities.
  • In an enclosed space, diffuse citronella with an aromatherapy diffuser.

Make a face wash for oily, acne-prone skin:

  • 5 drops citronella essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon witch hazel
  • 1/2 cup of water

Make a deodorant:

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
  • 4 drops lemon essential oil
  • 4 drops citronella

Blend baking soda and arrowroot powder into coconut oil. Stir in essential oils. Spoon mixture into small glass container. Rub a little under your arms as needed.

Make and all-purpose cleaning spray:

  • 1-1/2 cups distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon unscented liquid castile soap
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 5 to 10 drops citronella

Put all ingredients in a 16-ounce spray bottle. Shake well before each use.  

Remove fleas from your carpet with this powder:

  • 20 drops citronella
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 1 cup borax

Stir the essential oils into the borax. Place the mixture into a shaker jar. Shake generously on your carpet. Let sit one hour. Vacuum the carpet. Repeat daily until all fleas are gone. Source: Essential Oils: Natural Remedies  

Buy Citronella Oil

I recommend citronella essential oil from Young Living.

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Photo Credit: James Steakley - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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